Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date/Time: Day, August 25, 2011, 8:00pm ET
It was a dream run from a dream team of locals with a lot of talent and even more heart, but it wasn’t to be in 2011, as the Mid-Atlantic champs from nearby Keystone Little League raised their caps to a resounding cheer after falling to the West All-Stars, 2-0, in Thursday night’s elimination contest at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
More than 31,000 fans were on hand to see who would be the final team to advance out of round robin play and face the still-undefeated Northwest region champions in Saturday’s United States Championship game, and all of them were on their feet as 11 boys from Clinton County, Pa., took one final lap around the famed field.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” said manager Bill Garbrick. “It’s hard to put into words, but the support that we’ve seen, really from the time that we started all-stars, just kept getting bigger and bigger. And it’s just grown to what you’ve seen out here the past couple games. It’s been amazing.”
But in the end, it was the Ocean View Little League from Huntington Beach, Calif., who earned the win on the arm of hurler Hagen Danner, who struck out 12 of the 19 batters he faced and allowed just three hits to the hometown favorites.
“We’re a good hitting baseball team, and it takes a really, really good pitcher to hold us down. That’s what we saw tonight,” said Garbrick. “He was really on top of his game tonight, throwing hard with a good curveball. He had a really nice game.
“We knew he had the potential to do that,” Garbrick added. “We looked back at the regional tournament and saw some of the speed that he was throwing and knew what he could do. I don’t know [how fast] he was throwing tonight, but I didn’t want to stand in there and hit it. It looked fast.”
Danner was also the hero at the plate for the West, going 3-for-3 including a solo shot to start out the third frame. Danner’s shot cleared the fence and stopped dead on the top of the brink wall beyond, giving the West a 1-0 advantage. The hit would chase starter Alex Garbrick from the mound for replacement Landon Breon, who struck out a pair and got Nick Pratto to ground out to end the inning.
“It was a fastball right over the plate,” said Danner. “It felt good right off the bat and I knew it was out.”
Mid-Atlantic outfielder Tyler McCloskey was robbed of a base hit to lead off the bottom of the frame when rightfielder Steven Kotkosky made a webgem-esque play, sliding in to shallow territory to make the catch and keep the Mid-Atlantic off the bags. Danner would go on to strike out the side.
The rest of the West’s offense did its job in the fourth, doubling California’s lead when Ryo Takada singled home Christian Catano from second after the latter had come off the bench with bat blazing to rip a double into centerfield.
That was all the West needed, as Danner went on to throw 5.1 innings before hitting his 85-pitch limit, striking out the side in the second and fourth frames.
“The plan was just to go with [Danner] and not try to get cute and save pitching,” said Ocean View manager Jeff Pratto. “He had his velocity, his breaking ball was firm tonight – everything was good. He hit his spots well. I just think it was a good matchup for that particular team.”
Saturday, the West will face off against a Montana side that topped them in extras Wednesday night for the title of United States Champion and a berth into Sunday’s Little League Baseball Championship Game.